Update from book world

indiefab-silver-imprintSparkling in silver

I’m thrilled to tell you that Her Own Vietnam has won the Silver in Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards in its category (war and military fiction). The award, which was selected by a panel of librarians and booksellers, was announced on June 26. This is the first literary award I’ve ever won, and the first (of many, no doubt) for my publisher, Shade Mountain Press.

Let’s get together

If you live in the Washington, DC area, please come to my reading and book talk about Her Own Vietnam on Tuesday, July 7th at 6:30 pm. The event will be at Busboys and Poets on 14th and V, hosted by Politics and Prose, which has a bookstore within the restaurant. The reading is free and you’ll meet cool people there.

Busboys and Poets

We’ve got winners!

As you may know, I’ve been giving away free books by women writers through this blog and through my newsletter, Being Bookish. Here are this month’s winners.

Congratulations to G.R. of Minneapolis, MN, who won a free copy of The Normal State of Mind by Susmita Bhattacharya.

And congratulations to H.F. of Louisville, KY, who won a free copy of Fugitive Colors by Lisa Barr.

Want some free books? Check this blog, or you can sign up for the newsletter here if you’d like the free book opportunities to come to your inbox. July’s giveaway book is the fabulous novel The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman.

Angel of Losses


30 Women Novelists You Should Know – #26 Tayari Jones


Photo: radcliffe.harvard.edu

Photo: radcliffe.harvard.edu

Silver Sparrow is a book with a beating heart. The novel is about two girls growing up in Atlanta during the 1980s who have much in common. They’re the same age, live in the same middle class black community, frequent the same malls and follow the same rules and rituals of teenage life.

But only one daughter, the smart and beautiful Dana, knows what they really share: a father, James Witherspoon. And she’s understood since she was six years old that she and her mother Gwen are the family that must remain a secret.

Inside the sparkling world

It seems to Dana and Gwen that James’ other family – his wife Laverne and daughter Chaurisse – are the fortunate ones. They live in the nice house and see James every day, not just during a surreptitious visit once a week. And we, the readers, think so too, until the novel shifts from Dana’s voice to Chaurisse’s, letting us inside the sparkling world that Dana and Gwen have glimpsed only on their spying excursions.

There we learn that Laverne, the lucky legal wife who owns a hair salon, married James at 14 because she had gotten pregnant after a one-afternoon stand. She hadn’t realized that sex could lead to babies, or that being pregnant meant she would never again be allowed to go to school. When daughter Chaurisse meets and becomes friends with the mysterious “silver” girl Dana, she has no idea of their connection or of the cataclysm that creeps closer every day.

The shadow of Jim Crow

The shadow of Jim Crow looms over this lovely and heartbreaking book. And for me, another shadow: the closet. As a lesbian who came out in the unwelcoming days of the early 1970s, I know what it is to be someone’s dangerous secret.

Silver Sparrow was one of those novels I hated to leave. Fortunately, Tayari Jones has created other worlds for us to explore in her two earlier novels, The Untelling and Leaving Atlanta, which won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. I am now an unabashed fan of Tayari Jones, waiting eagerly for her next novel. Read Silver Sparrow and see if you can resist its pull.